Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Not new to the DAC, but a new member to the DAC, this aspiring young squash player has been playing our annual tournament for the past few years. He was so impressed with the club, he had to join. Full of energy and enthusiasm, always smiling, he has his heart in the right place to. A Detroiter to the core, he dedicates himself to improving our city through his company, “Come Play Detroit”.

The Squash Joint (TSJ): I know you have been keen to join the DAC for a while, but what was it that gave you the opportunity to finally get on board? 

I had wanted to join the DAC ever since my first experience at the 2009 DAC Classic, but at the time I was working in Pleasant Ridge and living in Bloomfield Hills, so it just didn't make sense. Now that I have a company that is Detroit based and I moved to Midtown, I felt now was the time to make the DAC a part of my life, more than once a year (DAC Classic, haven't missed since '09).

TSJ: Tell us about your company, “Come Play Detroit”. How did you get it off the ground and running? 

In February of 2010, I saw that there was a lack of social offerings for young adults. I started up a men's basketball league with some friends via a Facebook group... 2 weeks later we had 10 teams. Then some girls I know said they wanted to do something and would like me to organize it, so once again I went to Facebook and asked "Ladies of Metro Detroit, what sports/games would you like to play!?", and the overwhelming response was for co-ed kickball. 26 teams and over 300 players later, I saw that there was something there... people WANTED to play, they WANTED to meet new people, there just weren't enough opportunities available. I left my job at ePrize to begin focusing on providing social offerings for young adults, and have recently began partnering with companies downtown to "activate their workforces", and show them that there are opportunities to have a dynamic lifestyle in Detroit, and that the city can be a lot more than just a destination for their work commutes. 

TSJ: Since “Come Play Detroit” is your full time employment, I am presuming your draw your income from it. How does it get funded? Are you constantly looking for sponsors and support? 

The business model for ComePlayDetroit is based off of Chicago Social, the largest social offerings company in the country. By bringing thousands of young adults together, typically 22-35 year olds, we have a niche market that many companies are looking to market towards. We depend on these sponsorships in order to provide the leagues at the lowest costs possible to the participants, as we realize how sensitive many people are to the price points. We have received support from over 50 local businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, law offices, real estate companies, and we continue to receive a wide variety of new sponsors every session. 

TSJ: Would you rather have to live the rest of your life in a shack in the middle of the sweltering Sahara Desert or an igloo in the middle of the Antarctic? 

I would much rather live the rest of my life in an igloo in the middle of the Antarctic... I'm not a big fan of being really hot. As most of my squash opponents can attest, I'm a big sweater.

TSJ: Describe to us your ideal vacation. 

The dream vacation would be traveling the country to attend a baseball game in every stadium. 

TSJ: What long term goals do you have for your company? 

My long term goals for ComePlayDetroit is to become the go-to for anything fun and social in Detroit. Whether you are looking local parties, events, or to play in a local softball league. When you think fun, you think ComePlayDetroit! The impact I expect to have is to make Detroit a more attractive place for young adults to live, work & play. We need to retain and attract young talent, and the number one factor in young adults choosing where they want to live are the social offerings that are available (Soul of the Community, Knight Foundation).

TSJ: What are your personal goals with your squash? Do you see yourself playing this sport for the rest of your life (or as long as possible?) 

My personal goals with squash is to be able to be competitive in the 3.5/4.0. After pretty much dominating the 2.5/3.0 divisions for the DAC Classic and MSRA Skills, just through my athletic ability, I'd like to take my game to the next level. I definitely intend to play squash as long as my knees hold up... but I can already tell I'm getting older by the day (I'm 28, so don't feel too bad for me).

TSJ: Word association. Write down the first thing that comes to your mind when I say…

a.      Harry Potter… How old is Emma Watson now?
b.      The Royal Wedding… Overrated 
c.       New York Yankees… Overpaid
d.      Kwame Kilpatrick…  Shmuck
e.       Kentucky Fried Chicken… Popcorn Chicken
f.        Sports hero…  Hank Greenberg

TSJ: So far, what has been the most satisfying experience with your company? 

Being able to bring people together for fun experiences, and helping make Detroit a more attractive place for the next generation. I sell fun, how great is that!

TSJ: Without getting into too much politics, do you find it frustrating that the elected officials of the state struggle to get much done? Does it affect your business in any way, and does it make it difficult to keep motivated? 

It is definitely frustrating trying to have an impact on our community when our elected officials are too busy fighting among themselves. I have a non-profit organization, Detroit Harmonie, which has a variety of goals, but one of them is to put like minded people, that really understand what it is going to take to make a difference in Detroit, in positions to influence change. 

TSJ: Describe to us the worst date you have ever been on.  

Ha, well recently I had a girl tell me within 1 hour of our first date that she was diagnosed with clinical depression... and then on the 2nd date (yes, she was that hot that I took her on another date) she told me she thought she may be bi-polar. Still considering if I should take her on a 3rd date... 

TSJ: This final question is the one that will spark your mind and tingle the senses. It is also designed to embarrass you a little, but that’s no excuse not to answer it... What is your favorite time-wasting activity you do in order to get out of doing work?   

Facebook and Fantasy Sports.

I very much appreciate the time and honesty Justin spent in these answers. (And, since I had to edit his response to the final question, a little too honest at times!) With his boundless enthusiasm, I think his squash goals will be reached fairly rapidly and I’m sure his company will also benefit from his membership. We are lucky to have Justin in our DAC family.

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